When it pertains to managing your company’s IT systems, it’s essential to think about the tradition innovations you have in house as part of the IT strategy and management plan. ‘Heritage innovations’ can refer to any systems or applications that have actually been in existence for time, and are either ending up being tough to support due to decreasing skills or discontinued support from the vendor, or are no more core to the business’s operation however do still have to be preserved.
Heritage systems position possible risks to your IT operation and business continuity for a number of reasons. First, it develops additional trouble to your everyday IT operation. As a result, resources can’t be freed up to focus on more strategic, value-added campaigns. Second, the need to maintain and work with these heritage systems will lead to an increasing dependency on the limited number of staff with these skills. It increases risk at the operational level due to the lowered skill pool and support.
Imagine a scenario where a bespoke yet business-critical application for Business X was developed in RPG on the IBM AS/400 platform in the 1990s. As time actions on, there is only one individual in the IT division– who is practically to retire– that can keeping and updating that system.
While the application still satisfies a certain company need, the development of technology implies that the external and internal resources available to keep this system have actually reduced. Failing to address this situation is a risk to the business.
Therefore, actions MUST be taken with regard to your legacy technology. Do not let it become a stumbling block to your ability to address company priorities.
There are three common options for managing legacy systems/applications:.
1. You can migrate to an entirely new technology (i.e. a new package).
2. You can remain to develop your existing technology (i.e. modifying the code) using external providers if the in-house resource is not available.
3. You can outsource the management of your legacy technology (which can include the ongoing development of the application by the outsourcer).
Each option has different advantages and disadvantages that you have to consider. Let’s start analyzing these options one by one.
Initially, if you choose to migrate to a completely new system or application, you can expect the main advantages to include access to new (and possibly more widely used) technology with greater functionality. This option can possibly give you the opportunity to update your key business processes accordingly with the roll-out. However, the amount of work involved when moving a new package can be quite large and complex and it does include some financial, operational and resourcing risks.
Moreover, you’ll also need to make sure that the new technology ‘fits’ well with the remainder of the business, especially if you’re preparing to implement a packaged solution, and if it address your certain demand. If you think that you ‘d rather build a brand name new customised option, you still need to be aware that there are risks here too, as your new bespoke system/application could very quickly become outdated and a legacy itself, and therefore spark a costly (and endless) cycle of product development and obsolescence.
As such, many companies may prefer to continue develop their existing technologies instead of replacing them completely. The second option can be achieved by updating the necessary computing code and/or by developing a web-based wrapper that that can be used to enhance areas such as the user interface.
Unlike a full-scale replacement, this approach is appealing because it is incremental, and therefore reduces the initial time and financial commitment required. At the same time, it will help to prolong the life of your legacy system whilst also reducing many of the risks and problems connected it. However, in order to achieve these benefits, you will need to plan the project very carefully and make sure that you have all the skills and resources needed to manage such a complex project.
In many cases, the third option– outsourcing the management of the legacy systems– can supply the most immediate and straightforward answer to the challenge. Keep in mind that a well-qualified outsourcing company operates with a rich pool of resources to give you the complete support that you need and without the constraint you have in house (such as staff going on leave or deployed to other projects). Outsourcing the management of the legacy systems/applications will free up your IT department to focus on more strategic initiatives while guaranteeing that you have the consistent and reliable service you expect.
Crucial of all, if your longer term solution is inevitably to migrate to a new technology or to continue develop it, outsourcing provides you the time to evaluate these alternatives thoroughly while mitigating the threat elements associated with the legacy systems/applications.
Whatever your choice is, you will have to consider very carefully whether the solution you choose is going to address business requirement (at both a strategic and functional level) effectively, along with other important aspects, such as cost, timescale, service continuity, and the abilities and resources that would require for the change.
When weighing up all these aspects, you could find that the decision to outsource the management of your legacy systems and applications will tick all of the most important boxes, especially as you’ll be gaining access to a rich pool of support and skills instead of relying on a limited variety of personnel to deliver continuous services. Plus, an outsourcing environment will give you the resources (and the breathing space) that you need to minimize your operating risk, so that you can evaluate the business case for your other options more thoroughly. There can’t be a simpler solution to handling tradition innovations than outsourcing!
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